ARVE HENRIKSEN: Cartography (ECM Records)


Posted on Dec 9th 2008 01:52 am

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Arve Henriksen: Cartography

ECM Records 2008
12 Tracks. 51mins11secs

For his fourth album, Norwegian jazz trumpeter Arve Henriksen has moved from the excellent Rune Grammofon, who have provided a fitting home from his wonderfully airy displays since his debut, Sakuteiki, released in 2001, to the seminal jazz and classical German imprint ECM, which have, over the years, released work by the likes of Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett, Arvo Pärt and many more. But, while Cartography is Henriksen’s first solo record for the label, he has contributed to records by the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble, Sinikka Langeland, Frode Haltli or Trygve Seim, to name but a few, all released through ECM.

On his three previous solo records, Henriksen explored the scope of his instrument of predilection, reaching far beyond the beaten tracks to work with all sorts of new sounds. This is still very much his approach here, but Cartography maps out Henriksen’s sound like never before. While Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro (2004) and Strjon (2007) already demonstrated the man’s remarkable control and versatility, there is a much stronger element of spirituality and grace running throughout this latest effort, expressed in the close association between his solo outputs on the trumpet and the delicate layers of electronics created by Punkt’s Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. The basic forms are given more depth and relief by various contributors, including Anna Maria Friman, Audun Kleive, Eivind Aarset, Lars Danielsson and David Sylvian, who provides spoken words on Before And Afterlife and Thermal, echoing similar contribution to Punkt’s 2006 Crimes Scenes. Henriksen also provides vocals on opening piece Poverty And Its Opposite and Recording Angels, as he did previously occasionally on Strjon. But it is his wonderfully airy and light touches on the trumpet, and the additional noises and breathing of his instrument, which gives Cartography its many tones and textures.

The characteristically dark ECM cover initially appears to mirror the reflective mood of the record, but the spiritual currents that run throughout evoke much vaster and rich grounds. Pieces such as Migration, with its deep percussive vibrations and delicate arabesques, the short and soulful From Birth, or the soft brushes of Recording Angel and The Unremarkable Child are all extremely refined yet quite diverse manifestations of Henriksen’s growing range as a lead performer. And this is perhaps where Cartography differs from its predecessors. While each of his previous albums offered a particular angle upon which he could freely expend, he creates here pieces that are possibly more varied, but which fit in with each other much more intrinsically. This is perhaps due to a change in Henriksen’s approach, as he relies less on pure improvisation, a process which is fundamental to his work as part of Supersilent for instance, to build much more thought out compositions. This is the very essence of his work with Bang and Honoré, which culminate in the harrowingly beautiful concluding piece, Sorrow And Its Opposite, a piece which, although performed by Henriksen and Bang, was not written by the pair, yet, their nuanced interpretation and delicate rendering brings to the surface an incredibly wide range of emotions and brings this album to a perfect close.

An active musician in many formations, Arve Henriksen has developed a style of his own, which allows him the effervescence of his contribution to Iain Bellamy’s Food or the eruptions and deep calms of Supersilent. As a solo artist, he is increasingly delivering incredibly detailed and refined work, with multiple layers creating deeply nuanced sound forms. With Cartography, he not only delivers one of the stand-out records of the year, but his most ambitious and best record to date.


Arve Henriksen | ECM Records
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